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The Dales (Christmas Island)

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Title: The Dales (Christmas Island)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Christmas Island, Dale, Geography of Christmas Island, Christmas Island National Park, Little Waterhouse Lake
Collection: Geography of Christmas Island, Protected Areas of Australia, Ramsar Sites in Australia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Dales (Christmas Island)

The Dales form a wetland site at the western end of Christmas Island, an Australian external territory in the eastern Indian Ocean. The site has been recognised as being of international importance by designation under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.


  • History 1
  • Description 2
  • Flora and fauna 3
  • Access 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • Sources 5.2


The Dales were the first location where Europeans set foot on Christmas Island in 1688, during the expedition of William Dampier.[1] Nowadays the Dales are visited by local residents and tourists for sightseeing. One of the subsites, Hugh's Dale, has religious significance for Buddhists of Chinese background.[2]


The site comprises a system of seven watercourses within the Christmas Island National Park, including permanent and perennial streams, permanent springs, the Hugh's Dale waterfall, and most of the surface water on the island.[2] The site is set within tropical rainforest and adjoins the coast. The streams originate from groundwater seepages and flow into the ocean having, over time, worn gullies into the coastal cliffs.[3] It was designated on 21 October 2002 as Ramsar Site 1225, and is the first Australian Ramsar site to contain both surface and subterranean karst features.[2] Area of Ramsar site is about 57 ha.

Interesting geological features of the Dales are travertine and rimstone formations of Hugh's Dale[4] and the gully of Sydney's Dale, which closer at the sea gets up to 12 m deep and 9 m wide.[1]

Flora and fauna

The site contains a unique stand of enormous Tahitian chestnut trees. Sydney Dale is a recorded site for the critically endangered endemic fern, the Christmas Island spleenwort. The various wetland types of the Dales support populations of endemic and threatened animals, including the Christmas Island hawk-owl, Christmas Island goshawk, Abbott's booby, Christmas Island shrew and the Christmas Island blind-snake. Coastline habitats within the site provide breeding and spawning grounds for red and blue crabs. The main threat to the site comes from introduced species, in particular the yellow crazy ant[2] and the development of Immigration Reception Centre nearby, above the springs.


The road to the site's car-park is for 4WD vehicles only. There are walking tracks from the car-park to Hugh's Dale and Anderson's Dale, with interpretive signage for visitors.[3]



  1. ^ a b "The Dales of Christmas Island". Wondermondo. 
  2. ^ a b c d Annotated Ramsar List.
  3. ^ a b Blowholes, beaches... etc.
  4. ^ "Hugh's Dale Waterfall". Wondermondo. 


  • "The Annotated Ramsar List: Australia". The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. 4 January 2000. Retrieved 2 April 2010. 
  • "Blowholes, beaches and other highlights of Christmas Island". Traveldudes. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 

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